Little Busters! is an anime adapted from one of Key’s popular visual novels of the same name. While most Key anime is adapted by Kyoto Animation, they had their hands full with another anime (or so from what I’ve heard) and thus J.C. Staff wanted to try their hands at Key magic. The anime is directed by Yamakawa Yoshiki, produced by J.C. Staff and is 26 episodes in length. Little Busters! started broadcast in Japan on October 6, 2012 and ended on April 6, 2013. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
I’m a big Key fan when it comes to both their visual novels and anime, so when I heard of Little Busters! getting an anime adaption I was more than excited. Instantly I thought it would be a big hit like the previous works; Kanon, CLANNAD, Angel Beats!, and Air TV. I was a little disappointed that Kyoto Animation wasn’t going to be adapting it, but I had confidence that perhaps J.C. could pull it off. Did they? Well let us see…
The story follows Naoe Riki, a young boy who was diagnosed with narcolepsy around the same time his parents died when he was a child. He was losing hope after the death of his parents when he met the Little Busters, who at the time was composed of Natsume Kyousuke, Natsume Rin, Inohara Masato, and Kengo Miyazawa. Because of them, he gradually began to regain his hope and was able to smile again. Years pass and Riki is now in his second year of high school and the Little Busters are still together. Their visions of justice may have faded, and now Kyousuke is about to graduate and the Little Busters are running out of time together. Riki then mentions to the others that they should do something fun again, like the old days. Kyousuke them comes up with a spur of the moment idea, “Let’s play baseball.” They decide to form a team, but don’t have enough members. Their mission is to now find the remaining members they need to join the Little Busters, while at the same time, Rin and Riki have their own secret mission to fulfill; solving the problems someone is giving to them through notes via Rin’s cat, Lennon, so they can find out the “secret of the world.”
The story itself is what you’d expect from Key. It seems light-hearted and dramatic at the same time, giving off quite a few possible outcomes. Its not without its flaws, and there are some events that are just impossible to comprehend. But when it comes to Key you just have to believe in “Key Magic” or the fact that Jun Maeda believes he doesn’t have to explain a damn thing. It doesn’t take much from the score, and it doesn’t intervene to the point of total confusion. Most of the time some things will be explained in subtle detail later or you can just be a believer in Key magic, so just go with it.
Some characters share similarities with past Key characters, but are unique in their own way. There are a lot of main characters like most past Key anime and they are all pretty lovable, so you will easily be able to pick your favorite(s) from the bunch. Kyousuke, Masato, and Kengo don’t have much character development, but there is most likely a reason behind it that we will see in ~Refrain~. The other characters’ development is easily noticeable; it really shows how they’ve grown in time.
The main protagonist. He lost his parents at a young age and was diagnosed with narcolepsy around the same time. When he started losing hope, the Little Busters reached out to him, and they have been friends ever since. Riki is the most down to earth and level-headed of the bunch. He is very kind and tries to help others overcome their problems as though they were his own.
The main heroine. A shy, cat loving girl. She is an original member of the Little Busters and was the only female before the recruiting for the Little Busters baseball team. Rin is Kyousuke’s little sister and is considered the school idol of the school. She becomes determined to find out the secret of the world and thus diligently fulfills each secret task given to her with Riki’s help.
The leader of the Little Busters and Rin’s older brother. He is older than all the other members by 1 year and is quite popular in school due to his expressions when reading comics. Kyousuke comes up with crazy ideas and always follows them up with reasonable explanations.
The muscle idiot of the Little Busters. He has a rivalry with fellow member, Kengo Miyazawa, and is good friends with Riki. Masato loves to work out and has his own “dance” where he goes, “Muscles, aw yeah!”
The calm and probably most level-headed, after Riki, that is. Kengo is one of the original Little Busters members and has a rivalry with Masato. He has a very cool demeanor and is skilled in kendo. Kengo doesn’t care for Kyousuke’s idea of forming a baseball team and would much rather dedicate himself to kendo. Kengo = Kendo… I see what they did there.
The peacekeeper! Komari is a kind and childish girl who loves sweets. She sneaks up to the school’s roof frequently to eat the snacks she is always buying. She is very clumsy and tends to slip and fall whenever she runs.
Kurugaya’s a self-sufficient girl who has a love for cute things. She likes teasing Riki due to his baby-face. She has high intellect and is among the top ranked students, despite the fact she frequently skips class. She puts on an elder sister like front, and Haruka refers to her as Anego, meaning, elder sister.
A bookworm, in short. She is a quiet girl who is barely noticed by anyone. Nishizono always spends her free time reading. It would also appear as though she will read just about anything she can get her hands on; even reading her cell phone’s manual front to back. Like Kurugaya, she is highly intelligent and is among the top ranked students.
The moe princess! Also known as, “Kud” for short, she is a quarter Japanese and three-quarters Russian. Because her grandfather loves Japan, he had some influence on Kud to where he taught her a lot about its culture and language. Kud has never lived in one place for very long; having spent most of her life traveling the world with her grandfather. She is really bad at English, but works very hard to improve. Kud has two dogs that her grandfather sent over to her so she won’t be lonely, Belka and Strelka. Her favorite phrase is “wafū!”
Always upbeat, cheerful, and a bit of a troublemaker. Haruka is quite mischievous, often pulling pranks or doing things to get her in trouble with the disciplinary committee. She is apart of the maintenance committee.
Art & Animation
The art is probably one of the biggest flaws of the Little Busters! anime. Though, not to say its absolutely terrible… more along the lines of lazy. You don’t have to pay close attention to notice a lot of repeat scenes. I’ve lost count and don’t care to go back and count how many times I have seen a certain animation repeated over and over again or the amount of different repeated animations. Some people have complained in regards to Rin’s pitching animation being used over again, but that one can easily be disregarded in comparison with the scene that is used right in the beginning of every other episode or (I think) in the middle of one. The same scene with Riki waking up seems quite pointless. Its the same sound, the same animation, the same damn outcome. It almost always ends up with him waking up and then we go to a scene later in the day. With a clock animation they have showed more than once, they simply have a dark black fog covering the day and date on it. The animation alone, even without the repeated scenes, isn’t anything grand. Its average at most and isn’t one of J.C. Staff’s best works. But it seems that I almost always find one thing that J.C. screws up with in terms of animation. Now I will say that the animation isn’t bad to watch, but the obvious repeat scenes may make you cringe from time to time.
The greatest aspect about the LB! anime. The opening and ending are nice and catchy and the music was what you’d expect of Key anime, breathtakingly beautiful or just freaking hilarious for when it comes to the comedy bits. Each piece stands out from others and it is quite easy to identify them. When it comes down to it, the music was always fitting well with each scene and was used where needed to be used. However, like the repeat animation, there were a lot of tracks that were used a little too frequently. Its not too noticeable if you rarely pay attention to repetitive music, and it doesn’t get on your nerves much, but some may find this to be annoying. Voice actors did a good job. Their performances never really failed my expectations. Though there were visual novel fans that were disappointed in regards to “so-and-so didn’t do as good in that scene during the anime as they did in the VN.” The way scenes in anime are depicted and played out are slightly different from visual novels. Seeing the scene animated is a little different from a non-moving picture, and visual novels are rarely animated in some scenes, and even then it isn’t much in terms of animation. It all depends on the animation of the scene in the anime. Perhaps too much emotion or not enough emotion wouldn’t have looked so good in a certain scene, or shall we say, natural. So, from my perspective without comparing scenes from anime to visual novel, performances meet standards. As well as I have not completed the novel yet… so let’s leave it at that shall we?
All in all, the anime kept me interested. There wasn’t a single time I wanted to take a break from watching, and since I watched this back when it was airing once a week, I deeply anticipated every Saturday for the next episode. Despite its slight noticeable flaws, it doesn’t take away from the enjoyment. Little Busters! really has a way of drawing you in, whether you have the answer as to why something seemingly impossible happened or not. Like I said, Key magic, you accept it as is. Now if there wasn’t going to be a second season, this rating would have drastically changed, obviously. I mean, if that were the case, there would be so many questions left unanswered and you wouldn’t really enjoy being left with, “What the hell is going on?!” Overall, if you like Key anime, you are very likely to fall in love with Little Busters! for sure. I wouldn’t know certainly yet, however, for those who have fully completed the visual novel. From what I’ve heard some were quite disappointed. I don’t entirely see why, but I haven’t completed the VN yet, so who knows. Perhaps I’ll see why they were so disappointed after I finish seeing the original source myself. In terms of pacing, it was decent. It wasn’t too rushed nor too slow. Like past Key anime they waited an episode or two before jumping right into a character route. Each route had an average of 3 episodes each, which was a decent enough pace. Although, there were slight moments where it felt a little rushed; nothing too noticeable.
Little Busters! is a well adapted anime based on Key’s visual novel and doesn’t disappoint. It holds a pretty decent entertainment value. You may re-watch it once or twice, depends on the enjoyment you get out of it. You’ll love the characters, if not all, then most; you may have a hard time faving just one character. Animation is average, at most. Had it not been too lazy, my rating would have been higher, but those repeated scenes are just so pointless. I haven’t seen that many repeat animations since the last episode of Togainu no Chi. The music is just to die for and a must have for any original soundtrack collection. I highly recommend this for anyone who is a fan of Key or just a fan of a good comedy, drama, or school-life anime.
Anime Rating: 8
A sequel continuing where season 1 left off has been confirmed: Little Busters! ~Refrain~
It will most likely include Kurugaya’s route as well as the the Refrain route from the visual novel. Plus more drama! There has yet to be an air date announced, but it may not be till Fall 2013. The first season of Little Busters! will be repeating starting the 11th of April. This gives people a chance to start and/or finish the visual novel.
If you want to read/play the visual novel before season 2 comes out, then you can download it with a full English patch here: